Fwd: Re: Second person singular

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Jun 29 02:19:29 UTC 2008

 From a list for 18th century enthusiasts and mavens:
>I don't know any good secondary sources on the disappearance of
>thou and related forms, though someone must have written
>A contemporary argument about it comes from a famous Quaker:
>     George Fox, A Battle-Door for Teachers & Professors to Learn
>     Singular & Plural You to Many, and Thou to One, Singular One,
>     Thou, Plural Many, You (London, 1660).
> From the first few pages:
>     Is not your own Original, Thou to one singular, and You to
>     many plural; and proper speech, not non-sence? Do not they
>     speak false English . . . that doth not speak thou to one,
>     what ever he be, Father, Mother, King, or Judge, is he not a
>     Novice, and Unmannerly, and an Ideot, and a Fool, that speaks
>     You to one, which is not to be spoken to a singular, but to
>     many?
>     O Vulgar Professors, and Teachers, that speaks Plural when
>     they should Singular. . . . Come you Priests and Professors,
>     have you not learnt your Accidence.
>Fox's beef should be obvious to those who know Quaker linguistic
>habits: he's arguing against the use of the (former) plural you
>to individuals.  What's interesting about this book is that he
>does it in linguistic rather than religious or class-related

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